Sewage and Food Waste 

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Key Legislation:

For more detail on the Legislation relevant to this page, please use the following links:

Supporting Legislation:
Guidance Notes:


Consent Needed: None required unless vessel is >400 GRT or <400 GRT and engaged in international voyages in which case an International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate is needed. However, allowance is made for ships which fall outside the scope of the 2008 Regulations to voluntarily opt into the provisions of the sewage requirements by requesting survey and certification.Where a ship intends to deliver sewage to port waste reception facilities (as an alternative to treatment and discharge at sea), the harbour/port authority must be notified in advance (see Port Waste Reception).
How to Apply: For first certificate for UKCS, the operator must request the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) conduct a survey of sewage treatment systems; the MCA then issue the certificate.

For renewal of certificate, the operator must request Classification Societies to re-survey; Classification Societies then renew the certificate.

Who to Apply to: The first certificate will be issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA website). 

Thereafter, certificate is renewed by the Classification Societies.

When to Apply: Once unit commissioned for first certificate, renewed every 5 years.
Sewage Requirements of Merchant Shipping Regulations:

Sewage equipment is required only by vessels of >400 GRT or <400 GRT if certified to carry more than 15 persons and if engaged in international voyages. The requirements for sewage equipment will therefore apply to mobile drilling units or other vessels (e.g. FPSO) on international voyage.

Sewage discharge (from applicable ships) is:

  • Prohibited within 3 miles of land.
  • If appropriate sewage treatment plant (see below) is on board, discharge may occur if > 3 miles from land.
  • If disinfected/comminuted sewage has been kept in a holding tank, discharge should only be made while on route and proceeding at > 4 knots.
  • If no treatment facilities are on board, sewage may only be discharged if > 12 miles from land.

All ships to which the sewage requirements apply must have at least one of the following on board:

  • A sewage treatment plant which complies with the Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) Regulations 1999 as amended, or
  • A sewage comminuting and disinfecting system which meets the standards for such systems set out in MSN 1807, and is fitted with facilities for temporary storage of sewage which meet the standards set out in that MSN, or
  • A holding tank for the retention of sewage which meets the construction standards set out in MSN 1807, has sufficient capacity and has a visual indicator of the amount of its contents.

See MGN 385 (M+F) Guidance on the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008 for further information.

Monitoring: N/A
What to Report: No reporting required.
Who to Report to: N/A
When to Report: N/A
What to do if in Breach of Consent: N/A
None at present.